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77 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Youthful Optimism vs Middle Aged Cynicism
Galgut's novel evokes the stark landscape of rural post-apartheid South Africa. But do not let the daunting subject matter scare you away. This is a highly accessible novel written in simple, but eloquent prose. It's told from the point of view of middle-aged Frank Eloff who is an under-achieving doctor that has spent many years of his life at a remote hospital waiting to...
Published on 8 Oct. 2003 by Eric Anderson

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Weak nominee for the Man Booker Prize
Quotes on the back cover and my responses:-

"Tense and involving" ? I say: Not for me
"An absorbing story" ? I say: No, it isn't
"A brilliant literary thriller" ? I say: It might be set in Africa, but you must be having a giraffe!
"Life-altering?" I say: Oh come on, that's just absurd

I had expected this to be reasonably good however,...
Published on 17 Jun. 2005 by OEJ


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77 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Youthful Optimism vs Middle Aged Cynicism, 8 Oct. 2003
By 
Eric Anderson (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Good Doctor (Paperback)
Galgut's novel evokes the stark landscape of rural post-apartheid South Africa. But do not let the daunting subject matter scare you away. This is a highly accessible novel written in simple, but eloquent prose. It's told from the point of view of middle-aged Frank Eloff who is an under-achieving doctor that has spent many years of his life at a remote hospital waiting to be promoted. He begins the tale when an enthusiastic young doctor named Laurence joins the hospital as part of a required year of training. The two are required to share a room. A uncomfortable friendship blossoms. Laurence is determined to use his time at the hospital to make some radical changes as part of the new South Africa he welcomes. Frank however isn't so certain that the old South Africa has entirely left. Through the novel they are confronted by unavoidable people and problems from the past which slow the progress Laurence so ardently desires.
It's a literary work that contemplates the dilemma of the new South Africa with the same brevity as Gordimer's None to Accompany Me and Coetzee's Disgrace. Apart from the political connotations, this novel is a powerful and haunting tale about friendship and a man coming to terms with his middle age. It echoes the disturbing quality of Ibsen's Ghosts through its repetition of sexual betrayal. Toward the end of Frank's narrative, his accounts become more hallucinatory and his honesty becomes uncertain. A tremendous guilt overshadows his narrative. There is a desire to shake the complacency of the environment, yet any attempt at progress instantly proves futile. This is a very melancholy novel, but one of captivating beauty and intriguing mystery.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and sparse writing, 29 Nov. 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Good Doctor (Paperback)
This is an excellent book. The writing is very good and its simplicity hides a great depth of feeling. It reminded me of the writing of the Japanese author, Murakami, where we are given hints of what is happening but are left in the dark as to its exact workings out. The main character holds his secrets well but is very complex, thus making you want to read on to see what his eventual fate will be. Somehow, like the best plays, it takes you to a level of carthasis and leaves you wondering about it for a long time after you've closed the last page.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than Coetzee Now!, 29 Sept. 2003
By 
G. L. Smerdon (South Africa) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Good Doctor (Paperback)
I have followed Galgut's writing since 'A Sinless Season' appeared when he was but 17 years old, and this book is a triumph, far more entertaining than J.M. Coetzee's ramblings at the moment. Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, it stands, I think, a good chance to win.
In an unnamed bush 'hospital' somewhere in South Africa, a complacent doctor is steadily more thrown off balance and morally confused after the arrival there of a younger, more idealistic member of staff, and, later, of a figure from the narrator's past. To relate more here would spoil the reading experience, which had me glued to my chair until I had turned the last page. Suffice it to say that Galgut has the rare ability to write 'literary' fiction which is taut and utterly compelling.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark and Beautiful - Don't be Put Off by Other Reviews!, 19 July 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: The Good Doctor (Paperback)
I just had to review this book when I read the other (negative) reviews of Galgut's wonderful novel. Were we reading the same book? I absolutely loved it. No, it's not a tense thriller, but then I don't think that's what the author is trying to achieve. It has a wonderfully subtle plot to keep you gripped, but where this book really scored for me was in the writing. Galgut has created a compelling character in Laurence Waters (the 'Good Doctor'). Throughout the novel I willed Waters to be a better man than he was, to make me like him more, but he continually seemed capable only of curtailing his own happiness, revealing little of himself to the other characters in the book.
Perhaps this is what some other reviewers did not get when reading this book. Galgut shows extraordinary vision in his portrayal of a flawed man who doesn't want or need to be liked. This is not weak characterisation by the author!
If you want a fast paced book with twists in every chapter read a thriller. This book is all about the writing, and Galgut thoroughly deserved his Man Booker shortlisting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Weak nominee for the Man Booker Prize, 17 Jun. 2005
By 
OEJ - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Good Doctor (Paperback)
Quotes on the back cover and my responses:-

"Tense and involving" ? I say: Not for me
"An absorbing story" ? I say: No, it isn't
"A brilliant literary thriller" ? I say: It might be set in Africa, but you must be having a giraffe!
"Life-altering?" I say: Oh come on, that's just absurd

I had expected this to be reasonably good however, given its MAN Booker Prize nomination, instead it left me wondering about the standard of writing of the books that DIDN`T get nominated - they must have been pretty bad ! This is just passable pulp, a paper-thin story involving mostly uninteresting characters and with dark undertones of post-apartheid that I'm guessing may only really be understood by those who have lived and experienced that way of life. The central character (not the Good Doctor by the way) was, to me, a man of little character at all and the only time I found myself interested in anything to do with him was during his brief visit to his rich and powerful father. As for the Good Doctor himself, well, he was initially portrayed as something of an enigma but as the story progressed he became more and more ordinary and his idealistic attempts at nobility proved anti-climactic at best. I believe that the real message of this book, assuming there is one, will only be appreciated by anyone who lives (or has lived) in or near to South Africa.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ...a way of actually doing something...., 24 Feb. 2011
By 
Eileen Shaw "Kokoschka's_cat" (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Good Doctor (Paperback)
South African writer Damon Galgut takes a while to get going with this story of two doctors, rooming together in a half-derelict homeland hospital while the surrounding bushland seems haunted by memories of the last self-styled dictator, the Brigadier. The hospital is falling apart, some of its incumbents are helping the process by removing bits of machinery and beds. Frank Elof has been promised the post of his superior, Dr Ngema, when she leaves for a post in the city. Nothing has happened at the hospital for quite a long time, and then another doctor is sent as part of a community programme. Laurence Waters is young, idealistic, naïve and determined to do good.

Frank's marriage has fallen apart and he has been conducting a kind of relationship with a woman who runs a small shop in a nearby village. Laurence takes a clinic out to this village and for a while it seems that his energy will promote changes to the moribund state of things. But something much more unexpected is about to happen, which will shake up the perceptions of everyone, and Frank most of all. This is a thriller which manages few thrills for the first three-quarters, but it is very economically put together and comes to a satisfying climax - only to hit a dying fall in the closing few pages. Taut, sparse, unpretentious, it's a good read.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Naught for your comfort, 15 Oct. 2003
By A Customer
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This review is from: The Good Doctor (Paperback)
This is a beautifully written novel, spare, honest and compelling, which confronts the confusion and uncertainty of post-apartheid South Africa and offers disturbing insights but no easy solutions. The theme is political, but this is no arid tract: the characterisation is sharp and true; the plot gripping and totally credible and the narrator's voice, disillusioned yet searingly honest, not least about himself, totally authentic. The criminal madness of apartheid has gone but still casts long shadows and everyone seems to be stumbling in the dark, including the apparently clear-eyed idealist Laurence Waters. This is not a comfortable book but it is insightful, illuminating and truthful. An excellent read.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An impressive novel, 24 Aug. 2004
By 
HORAK (Zug, Switzerland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Good Doctor (Paperback)
Laurence Waters is working in a rundown hospital in the capital of what used to be one of the homelands of South Africa. These areas of land are impoverished and underdeveloped, set aside by the apartheid government for the self determination of its various black nations. As Frank Eloff joins the staff of five for a one year training, he soon discovers that there is virtually no activity at the hospital. Most of the people living in the abandoned town - built once by what Laurence terms as "a puppet dictator" - aren't even aware of the presence of the facility! The equipment is so flimsy that most cases have to be referred to a hospital in a town an hour away.
Nevertheless, Mr Galgut masterfully describes the relationships between the staff members, at times showing harmony, at times tension and discord. Laurence's thoughts are busy with his failed marriage, with his father resenting him for being what one may call a loser - he ironically talks about "such wonderful work you do up there amongst the rural blacks" - or with his memories of the two years he spent in the army.
An altogether impressive read, atmospheric with the heavy heat of South Africa, its political and racial issues and the permanent threat of violence which many authors associate with their country in their novels - J.M. Coetzee, André Brink, Nadine Gordimer or Doris Lessing to name but a few.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read, 21 April 2008
This review is from: The Good Doctor (Paperback)
An interesting tale of post-apartheid South Africa, Frank, our lonesome doctor has thrust upon him young Lawrence whose serving his year out in the community. The setting takes place in a backwater town which seems to be slowly stagnating, but Lawrence with his ideals tries to change the place. There is little momentous action in the book; instead we see the effects of change and the subtleties of race relations in the New South Africa. A worthwhile read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I became engrossed in this book., 22 Sept. 2012
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This review is from: The Good Doctor (Kindle Edition)
The Good Doctor - Damon Galgut

"The first time I saw him I thought, he won't last"

Frank Eloff, a doctor who has left his mainstream practice after his marriage breaks up takes up a position at an isolated, understaffed hospital in one of the old Bantustans. He keeps himself busy by doing the minimum amount of work. His world is turned on his head when Lawrence Waters arrives to do his community service after qualifying as a doctor.

Damon Galgut captures the everyday life in this little outpost through beautiful prose. It's a story that must be read, for no other reason than for the beauty of the language and how Damon has managed to get the prose to express the sheer nothingness of the place where this little abandoned hospital with its group of strangers must live & share their lives.
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The Good Doctor
The Good Doctor by Damon Galgut
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